I have long believed that Honolulu is in need of new leadership, a clear departure from the embarrassing levels of corruption and incompetence that have defined our city government for the past seven years.

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When I chose to run for mayor in 2016, I could never have imagined the top crises in Honolulu — rail cost overruns, rising crime and homelessness and government ineptitude — could possibly worsen.

I was wrong.

Handed a second term and emboldened by a new, narrow majority on the City Council, the incumbent administration has unsurprisingly fumbled the last three years and sent every aspect of our city life down a path of further decline.  And while it is clear to all that Honolulu is in desperate need of dramatic change and real leadership, I have come to the difficult decision that I am not the best person to lead this charge in the 2020 election.

Public service has always been a part of my core, serving not only in the U.S. Congress, the Legislature and City Council but also in the U.S. Army Reserve.

Charles Djou addresses his supporters, Tuesday, November 7, 2016 at the Pearl City Country Club in Hawaii. (Civil Beat photo by Ronen Zilberman)
Charles Djou addressed his supporters on Election Day in 2016 at the Pearl City Country Club on Oahu, the night he lost to Mayor Kirk Caldwell. Djou is sitting out the 2020 election. Ronen Zilberman/Civil Beat

I count my time representing Hawaii in Washington, D.C., as well as serving my country in Afghanistan, as the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my professional career.

While my family and I have been through many close and difficult elections and it has taken a toll on us, I still long to return to elective service for Hawaii.

However, it appears I may have to set politics aside for now because I have been given a new opportunity to serve our nation.

Recently, I was selected to attend the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in residence and complete a graduate degree in Strategic Studies. This is a highly competitive selection for the Army’s most promising lieutenant colonels, who military leaders believe can assume the highest command positions and responsibilities.

Public service has always been a part of my core.

Completing War College will better position me to assume more significant future roles and duties in service to our country. And unfortunately, running for public office this fall would conflict with this military assignment.

Stacey, our children and I are so very grateful to all who have encouraged us to run for mayor again in 2020.

We share your worries, frustrations and disappointment with the current state of affairs and failed trajectory of the current administration.

We therefore look forward to joining all of you in supporting candidates in the upcoming mayoral and City Council races who represent a clear and defined break from the incumbent in office and instead champion the kind of honest, effective and accountable government that the people of Honolulu deserve.

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